Although MIT is not one of Williams’s NESCAC rivals, it always offers a hard-fought battle and the match on Saturday was no exception.
Although the score may seem one-sided, the Ephs’ 6-1 victory was a struggle to the end. The hot, humid day was not ideal for tennis, but the Ephs came through to beat the East’s top-seeded team and take #1 honors.
As usual, the initial doubles matches proved to be crucial, providing the team with the momentum needed to carry them through the rest of match. The first victory came at third doubles. Co-captain Eric Hasenauer ’00 and Kurt Palmer ’02 secured a win over their opponents by a score of 8-4.
After rare losses by Josh Lefkowitz ’02 and Dan Matro ’01 at first doubles, the pressure fell on the second doubles team to clinch the doubles point. Co-captain Pete Stein ’00 and Milos Janicek ’02 did not disappoint. The duo held its ground during a late MIT comeback to win 8-6.
“We knew that the doubles point could be the most important aspect of the match,” said Stein. “We tried to take it from the first point and just have a lot of fun.”
“I think it was some of the best doubles we’ve played as a team,” added Janicek. “Pete was moving really well, I was serving well, and our serves earned us a few free points each game. I loved the way we regrouped after letting it slip to 6-5.”
The singles points were also intense. Hasenauer led the team at second singles, picking up where he left off at the NESCAC championships.
Hasenauer came out on fire, putting constant pressure on his opponent and taking the first set 6-0.
His opponent remained tough to play well in the second set, but Hasenauer eventually put him away, taking the set 7-5.
The next singles win came from Matro at third singles, who bounced back from his doubles loss. “Doubles was disappointing, but singles is a different game. I cleared my head and got in the singles rhythm,” said Matro. Typically a baseliner with the ability to come in behind his deep groundstrokes, Matro met his match.
His opponent was also a very consistent player from the baseline, and the two engaged in several extremely long points. In the end, Matro frustrated his opponent and wore him down; the final score was 7-6(1), 6-1.
“I knew if I could get a lot of balls in the court, I could tire him out with my consistency,” said Matro. “I wasn’t making many mistakes, and he got frustrated in the second set.”
The clinching match for the Ephs came at fifth singles with Palmer. Palmer also wore down his opponent to win 6-3, 7-6(2).
Lefkowitz, the top singles player in the East (Div. III), struggled against another highly ranked player but pulled out a 7-6(4), 6-2 victory. Lefkowitz was not happy with his play but managed to stay on serve during the first set with smart shot selection. With one set behind him, Lefkowitz put away his opponent in the second.
Eric Chen, Lefkowitz’s opponent, said, “With the heat, it was a real battle. In the end, he played the big points really well.”
The final Eph win came at fourth singles. Janicek overcame a tentative first set loss to win 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 by outlasting his opponent and serving well.
“I knew he would be a great player going onto the court, but I probably game him too much credit by going for the lines too much in the first set, “said Janicek. “Also, after the first set, he seemed a bit tired, so I just tried to keep the ball in play and make him work.”
Miles Hawley ’02, in his singles debut this season, lost a tough three-set match. The score was 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.
“Thanks a lot to all our fans—it’s great to play for so many people,” said Stein.
The Ephs will now focus their efforts on the NCAA Regionals, to be played at Williams next weekend.